And I mean literally!
Woman who knows no fear could offer brain clues for scientists
December 17, 2010
US scientists have discovered a woman with a rare brain disease that makes her afraid of nothing.
She's not afraid of a huge snake lurking near her children, or a knife to her throat — and she's certainly not afraid of a horror movie.
The woman cannot experience fear because of a condition that has destroyed the part of her brain — the amygdala — where researchers say they believe the feeling of fear is made.
Over the past two decades researchers have been analysing the woman, known as SM, for clues about her condition which they say could help them treat post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly in soldiers returning from war.
"It is quite remarkable that she is still alive," said lead author Justin Feinstein whose study appears in the journal Current Biology.
"The nature of fear is survival and the amygdala helps us stay alive by avoiding situations, people, or objects that put our life in danger," he said.
"Because SM is missing her amygdala, she is also missing the ability to detect and avoid danger in the world."
Instead of fear, SM, whose rare condition is known as Urbach-Wiethe disease, describes "an overwhelming feeling of curiosity".
To test her reaction, researchers led her into an exotic pet store filled with spiders and snakes, animals she repeatedly said she "hates" and tries to avoid.
"Upon entering the store, SM was spontaneously drawn to the snake terrariums and appeared visually captivated by the large collection of snakes," the study said.
Asked by a store employee if she would like to hold one, SM agreed and then played with one for about three minutes.
"She rubbed its leathery scales, touched its flicking tongue, and closely watched its movements as it slithered through her hands," it said.
"Her verbal behavior revealed a comparable degree of fascination and inquisitiveness: she repeatedly commented, 'This is so cool!'"
When she reached for a tarantula, however, she had to be stopped because there was a high risk she could be bitten.
"When asked why she would want to touch something that she knows is dangerous and that she claims to hate, SM replied that she was overcome with 'curiosity,'" the study said.
Woman who knows no fear could offer brain clues for scientists | Space, Military and Medicine | News.com.au | News.com.au
Could imagine the level of possible inherent dangers; you'd almost want to have someone kinda 'riding shotgun' with you at times huh...
Wouldn't mind personally if my amygdala was a little less, ah, active lol...but hey you work with what nature dealt you, right?